I recently tested positive for Covid-19 and wanted to share my experience in the hopes that it may be helpful for at least one person. This was something completely new and different for me and it will be for others as well. I had never been in the hospital or been on an ambulance before this experience.
It started around 11:30pm on Wednesday September 1st. I woke up and my stomach just didn't feel right. It didn't hurt and I didn't get sick. But I could not sleep well. Thursday continued with my stomach not feeling well and I slept terribly that night too. Luckily, I was able to take a nap those days and that was very helpful. Then on Friday September 3rd, I developed a cough that afternoon. It was a productive cough with sputum and that's when I thought I had Covid. I went the next morning to have a Rapid Antigen test performed locally and it confirmed my suspicion. The test was positive. Luckily, I had already been isolating from my family to be on the safe side.
For the next few days, my stomach hurt and I could not eat hardly anything. For those of you that know me, you know that that is not normal. I love food and I can eat much more than my fair share. I tend to amaze people at buffets! I was also sleeping a lot and was very tired. I could walk around and do things but I would have to rest which involved taking a nap. By Tuesday, I knew I needed to keep an eye on my oxygen saturation level. Luckily, I have a pulse oximeter and I can check this easily. Phew....99%. Can't get much better than that.
I still couldn't eat hardly anything which was concerning for my wife and it was getting harder and harder to breathe. My oxygen saturation levels were decreasing too. They were still in the 90s but it was the low to mid 90s. By Thursday afternoon, my oxygen saturation level would fall to 85% after just walking up the stairs and back down. I would then have to lie down and catch my breath. After a few minutes, the level would creep up to 90-92%.This occurred during a telehealth appointment that my wife set up. Dr. Kornweiss was very helpful in answering our questions and made it clear that I needed to go to the ER. So that is what I did. I made my first trip to the ER. That's right first trip implying that there would be another!
"I Had A Bad Experience"
I will not mention the names of the hospitals or the staff by name, but I will detail my experience thoroughly. There were times where I was mistreated in this process and I pray that I can help prevent someone else from experiencing that. Luckily, I am fairly young and have always been healthy. I also tend to have pretty thick skin too and most things don't bother me. Without these fortunate traits (fortunate at least in this instance), things would have been much worse.
I spent hours in the ER with no treatment and I don't mean waiting to be seen. I was in a room but they would not do any form of treatment. Dr. Kornweiss was wonderful during this time as well by the way. He continued to check on me via email and would text/talk to my wife as well. The ER doctor, well, that is a different story. It seemed that once they knew I was not vaccinated then I did not matter very much. She never even stepped foot in my room! She would stand in the doorway. Most of the nurses were the same way. I was lying there struggling to breathe. After a while, my lungs and chest began to hurt from the struggle. When I would ask for help, I was told that I have Covid and I am going to feel bad. I already knew that but there had to be something that could make breathing easier! When I would tell them that I couldn't breathe well, they would like at my oxygen saturation levels of 92-93% and tell me that I was breathing fine.
Eventually, they did give me oxygen. Oh what a sweet relief! I did not realize before that exactly how hard my body was working to breathe and stay in the low 90s. The supplemental oxygen did not make everything go away but breathing was so much easier. They also gave me a steroid. I did have two nurses, one male and one female, who were very compassionate and kind to me. They were the only bright spot in this experience and I am extremely thankful for them. The steroid led to me sweating...a lot! I actually soaked the sheet and those two nurses came in to clean the bed and give me new linen. They also helped me get my shirt off and put on a hospital gown. I think the sweating was a combination of a fever breaking with the steroid.
I was discharged home on Friday. Once my wife arrived to pick me up, I had to walk out there without any assistance. It seemed like they were saying "good riddance."
It was nice to be home but I still did not feel good. My oxygen levels were still in the low 90s and I just could not do much of anything. I could not talk much and had to concentrate on relaxing and staying calm. If I wasn't calm, I felt worse and it was harder to breathe. This was obviously upsetting to my wife.
I could walk a little bit more and I was able to sit outside on our porch. I stayed there as much as I could on Saturday. It was nice being outside and it was an easy way to keep my family safe. I woke up Sunday morning and checked my oxygen level...90%. Uh-oh, that's not good since I was only sleeping. Let me go outside and sit down. Ugggh, that seemed a lot harder to walk out here. What's my oxygen say? 84%. Well that is not good at all. Let me rest and see if it comes up. 88%, well that sucks! I knew that I needed to lie down so I walked back into the house and laid down. Oxygen went to 84% and then back up to 88%. At that point, I had to text (talking was too strenuous) my wife to call EMS.
EMS arrived and they were great. I was able to walk out to the ambulance and they gave me oxygen right away. Again, it made a huge difference. It didn't take everything away but it also was not a struggle to breathe! I also made sure that they took me to a different hospital. I was not going to go through that again. Even if I would not have been able to make that clear, my wife was NOT going to let that happen. So, I had my first ambulance ride. Woohoo!
What a completely different experience! They saw me quickly for triage and the ER doctor saw me shortly after that. He actually came in the room and you could see the compassion in his eyes. They also put me on oxygen right away. I had to sit in a room with only chairs for a short bit before they had an ER room for me. I had several different nurses and they were all kind and caring. I stayed in an ER room for about two days despite being admitted. So the nurses that were taking care of me were actually from a different part of the hospital. One of the first nurses was so kind. She made sure that I got all the medications I needed and that I stayed well hydrated. I also loved the fact that she would just talk to me! The isolation during this process is miserable. My wife could not see me and was not allowed in the hospital at all. She still went and sat in the parking lot. If that's not love then I don't know what is!!!
I have no complaints about anyone with the second hospital experience. I obviously would have preferred not to need to be there but since I was, they were wonderful in taking care of me and treating me like a person. Everyone was truly amazing but two nurses were instrumental. I was lucky enough to have them take care of me multiple days in a row and I am blessed to have gotten to know them a little bit.
My New Friends
I was also lucky that their shifts did not overlap. This means that I had one of them taking care of me from 7pm to 7am and then they would switch. The quality of care they provided was excellent. It was above and beyond, especially when you know some of their story! One nurses' mom was in the ICU at another hospital due to Covid and on a ventilator. I appreciated her sharing that with me and was amazed at her strength. She had to be stressed out and worried about her mom, yet I would have never known. She made me feel like I was the only thing in the world that she was concerned about. That was humbling and made me cry! I made sure to tell her how much it meant to me and that I was praying for her mom and her family. I would always get updates when she started her shift. Luckily, the last report was good. Her mom was doing better and was going to be off the ventilator. My nurse was relieved and happy and I was ecstatic for her! She also called me "Sweet Pea." I loved it!!!
My other nurse was wonderful too. It turns out that she is recovering from a recent Covid infection. She said she was still tired. That is something I could easily understand and relate to. She was shocked when she found out that I had no underlying medical issues, wasn't taking any medications, was active, ate healthy, etc. She just couldn't understand how this happened to me. I would check on her when her shift started and ended to see how she was feeling. I would encourage her to rest at the end of her shift. She was the one who wheeled me down to my wife when I was discharged late on Wednesday. She was like a mother hen protecting me. She made sure that there was room in the backseat for me. I was also discharged home with supplemental oxygen. She would not let me lift the tank into the car, she had to do it! She also put the oxygen concentrator in the back of the car for my wife.
Home Sweet Home
It is good to be home. The oxygen concentrator is loud and we are getting used to the oxygen tubing to. No one has tripped yet....fingers crossed. I started on 2L of oxygen and have started to recover.
Luckily, I know what I need to do. I will be able to slowly wean off the oxygen and return to normal. I will gradually increase my activity, sitting up, lying prone to help my lungs, etc. I even have a little device that provides resistance to inhale against and exhale against. This will help to strengthen my lungs. I have used this device, The Breather, before with some of my patients. I have seen it increase their oxygen saturation levels after walking faster than using supplemental oxygen. It is amazing what the body can do when we give it what it needs! Yesterday, Friday September 17th, was the best day so far. I was able to speak more and do more. I was able to cut the oxygen down to 1.5L and my oxygen saturation levels were often 94-95% while walking. YESSSS!!!! I will keep working but I will also be patient and not push too hard or overdo it.
What Have I Learned?
This experience really provides perspective on what matters and what is important. People and community are extremely important. You feel isolated during this and it is understandable. You are sick. You know you are sick and you also don't want to make your loved ones sick or anyone else for that matter. BUT it's lonely and being lonely makes it harder to recover. It is a vicious circle! Luckily, there have been numerous people to step up and help. People have constantly been checking on me and checking on my wife. People have brought meals and other things for my wife and kids to love on them during this process. My friends have texted and called. Even ones where we have not spoken in a while. It's amazing how with true friends, you pick right up where you left off, inside jokes and all. Those moments really helped to get me through this ordeal. My coworkers have also been extremely good to me. Their thoughtfulness was humbling and made me cry.
I wish I could say that I went through this whole experience and was never worried. Well, I guess I could say that but it would be a huge lie. There were times that I was scared. Times where I wondered if I would ever be able to do things without supplemental oxygen. Would I even be able to take a shower without being exhausted? Will I ever be able to work out again? To climb? Hike? Even, will I ever get home to be able to hug my wife and kids? These types of thoughts are normal and I would remind myself of that. But I also did my best to not dwell on them. I would acknowledge these thoughts and remind myself to be positive. I would think that this is going to be a process and a learning experience. Struggle is not always a bad thing. Struggle helps us to learn about ourselves and what we are capable of. Struggle helps us grow! I also reminded myself of the community that I had around me. They would be there for me no matter what happened. And the biggest supporter in that community for me is my wonderful wife! She has been the best and stepped up in numerous ways. I am going to do my best in showing her how much I love and appreciate her. I would not be here without her and she would not have been able to do what she has done without everyone supporting her. I thank you all for that. Knowing that she was being taken care of also helped me to stay positive, even during the darker times.
I am going to be a much better friend and husband. It is easy to take things and people for granted. It's human nature. But I am going to fight against that nature! I want my family to know how important they are and how much I love them. I want my friends to know how important they are and that I love them. I am not going to be bashful. I will tell them that I love them no matter how uncomfortable they are with it. I love you man!
If the vaccine had played no role in my experience, I would have left this out, especially since it is a controversial issue. But since I was treated very poorly due to not being vaccinated, I feel that my thoughts are warranted. I am just sharing my thoughts and am not trying to coerce or convince anyone of anything.
I am not an anti-vaccination person and I am not a mandate everyone be vaccinated person. I guess I am somewhere in the middle. I wish we had a different word than vaccine for the Covid Vaccine. When we hear the word "vaccine", we tend to think, "oh great, this will wipe out that disease and we don't have to worry about it any more." Wouldn't that be great for Covid!?! Unfortunately, this vaccine does not work that way. It does not eradicate the disease and the research shows that it does not do very much to prevent being infected and infecting others. However, if you are vaccinated and become infected, your symptoms should be less severe which is definitely helpful and will hopefully prevent you from going to the hospital which helps them from being overwhelmed. Those are some great things!
I guess what I really wish could happen is that we could have logic and reason during this time and with this choice. The vaccine and many other things Covid-related have become politicized and monetized. Those are not good things and they are unnecessary. I believe in informed consent. Let's give people the science and the data regarding the risks associated with the vaccine. Let's also give them the information regarding the benefits of the vaccine. Let's give people the information regarding their risk of getting Covid and what may happen. We can also give them information regarding the benefits of natural immunity versus immunity from the vaccine. Then once people have this information, they will be much better equipped to make the best decision for themselves. There will always be risks involved with any medication, but most medications are safe for the majority of people. Unfortunately, we can never know beforehand exactly who will and who won't be affected. That is why we all need the information to make the best possible decision we can.
I did not get vaccinated because I knew that my risk of dying from Covid was very extremely low. I knew it was not 0% because it never can be, but I knew it was very low. I knew that I could be infected and if I was, it would probably be a mild case. I also knew that there are different risks associated with the vaccines. I felt these risks exceeded my risk with Covid and that was my choice. Well, I have been infected and I have shared my story with you. AND, according to the doctors and hospital staff, I still am a mild case.
I hope my story is helpful for someone. Our story is the most powerful thing we have. It is what connects us to something bigger than ourselves. It connects us to others. I know that some people will agree with what I said regarding the vaccine and some people will disagree and some people will have other opinions completely. I think that is great! We need different ideas and opinions. How boring would the world be if everyone thought the same way? Yuck! We don't all have to agree, debate and discussion are wonderful things. But let's remember, that we are all people and we have value and we matter. We don't just matter because we think the same thing or belong to the same political party. We matter and have value simply because we are who we are. We can be respectful of each other and not mistreat someone just because they didn't prescribe to our view of a vaccine!
Grace Church: You walked with us through our daughter's seizure disorder and the other struggles we have faced. And you are walking through this new struggle with us to. We wouldn't be where we are without you!
My Wife's Friends (you're my friends too but you know what I mean): Thank you for texting, calling and supporting her in an honest way. Thank you for not giving her meaningless platitudes that might not be true. Things like it is going to be just fine when there was never a guarantee that everything would be fine.
My brother-in-law, Dan: My dogs kept escaping from their yard while I was in the hospital. This did not decrease the stress on my wife. He helped to replace the electric fences, weed eat, cut the grass, etc. That was huge!
My Co-Workers: Again, you made me cry! What else can I say?
My wife's work family: Thank you for taking care of her and for caring about me. I am humbled by what you have done.
My Family: This is for everybody, THANK YOU SO MUCH! I love you all!!!
My Children: Thank you for checking on me while I was in the hospital and spending time talking with me since I have been home. I know that is not the coolest thing in the world to do. I did love getting to give you a big hug when I got home!